Not Kidding Around: How Pet Anxiety Can Take Over When School Begins
There’s a whole lot of excitement and nervous energy bouncing off the walls inside countless American homes. That’s right, the school year is about to begin. Along with all the intangible feelings associated with this huge shift, the hallways and closets are brimming with new shoes, supplies, and gear. Always the last one to know? The family pet. While they may not know exactly what’s coming down the pike, they are enormously sensitive to change. Together we can help keep pet anxiety from overtaking the balance of the household.
Prepping Your Pet
You have a lot to do if you have kids getting ready to start their new school year. However, neglecting to properly prepare your pet for an empty house, no company, and nothing to do can be a super rude awakening for them. How can you help your pet cope with the impending confusion and loneliness?
One of the best things you can do is ease your pet into the new schedule. Since they rely heavily on their routine, even subtle changes can freak them out. A few weeks before school starts, get everyone ready to leave in the morning just like they will when the academic year begins. Stay away for as little as 30 minutes at first and increase the time apart over the next week or so.
While you want to give your pet attention before you leave, try not to make a huge deal out of your departure. Animals are attuned to nervousness, stress, fear, doubt, confusion, etc. and will react in kind.
Keep calm and as neutral as possible. When you return home, the same approach should be used. If you don’t react like it’s a scary ordeal, you’re giving your pet an opportunity to simply accept the change.
Calming Pet Anxiety
Play with your pet and/or exercise with them prior to leaving in the morning, and do the same when you return. Also:
- Provide puzzle toys to keep them working on something in your absence. Many pets enjoy the tasty reward and associate this with something positive instead of negative.
- Lay out cozy, comforting bedding, and always have their crate accessible to them if they depend on it for feelings of security.
- Hire someone to check in on your pet 1-2 times a day if you plan on being gone from dawn to dusk.
- Consider our amazing day camp if your pet thrives on socialization opportunities.
Know the Signs
Whether your pet is a seasoned part of the family, or this is their first fall separation, it can be downright difficult to navigate this path. Please never scold or punish your pet for acting out. Instead, know the signs and seek help:
- Endless barking or whining
- Frantic clawing at the door you left through
- Destructive behavior (like chewing on the spot on the couch you favor)
- Escape attempts (is your pet microchipped?)
- Soiling inside the house
Lost the Pack
Pet anxiety can really come out of nowhere, but if you address it head-on your pet has a better chance of turning around some of the symptoms. We recommend scheduling a wellness exam to rule out possible associated medical concerns, and treat symptoms that are affecting your pet.